CHAMPIONSHIP boxing is back in “The Big Easy” on Saturday at the Lakefront Arena. Native son Regis Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) defends the WBC Interim super-lightweight belt against fellow unbeaten Juan Jose Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs), while unbeaten lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez (9-0, 7 KOs) looks to continue “The Takeover” against once-beaten William Silva (25-1, 14 KOs) for the vacant WBC Continental Americas lightweight title.
Prograis vs. Velasco and Lopez vs. Silva will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 7 p.m. ET. The undercard will be streamed on ESPN+ beginning at 4:30 p.m ET and include several standouts, including 2016 U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell (7-0, 5 KOs) in a six-round middleweight bout against Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native Travis Scott (19-3, 5 KOs), 2016 Olympic gold medalist Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (4-0, 2 KOs) versus fellow unbeaten Kevin Johnson (5-0, 4 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout; unbeaten 130-pound contender Erick De Leon (17-0-1, 10 KOs) against Adrian Young (25-4-2, 19 KOs) in a 10-rounder; featherweight prospect Jean Carlos Rivera (13-0, 8 KOs) versus Angel Luna (12-4-1, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder; and the professional debut of the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Russia, Vladimir Nikitin.
Regis Prograis said, “I’m not going to say I go in looking for the knockout, but I go in to try and hurt my opponent. Boxing is a brutal sport, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I feel like I’m a killer. Of course, I’m nice. I can smile with ya’ll, but when I get in there, I’m a killer.
“When I hit somebody and I know they’re hurt, then I know I got them. My whole thing is if I hit them and I see some type of weakness in their body, or I see something going, then I know automatically I got them. It’s over.
“When I started [boxing], I was a natural street fighter most of the time. It was a big influence because it started me off and gave me the hunger. I wanted to be great and I knew I wanted to be a professional boxer since probably when I was 14 or 15.
“There are way more distractions [fighting at home], but it’s part of the game. You gotta do it. It’s part of my job.”
Juan Jose Velasco said, “The pressure is not an issue for me. The pressure is on Regis. I’m not expected to do much, which is fine by me. I’ll prove the experts wrong.
“I feel like everyone is pulling for him, that it’s a gimme fight for Regis. Everyone can talk, but on Saturday, he’ll have to fight.”